This is our daily update of breaking COVID-19 news for Thursday, December 24th, 2020. Previous daily updates can be found here, and up-to-date statistics are here.

New York City is in Phase 4 of reopening now, which includes zoos, botanical gardens, museums, and gyms. Citing rising hospitalization rates, Governor Andrew Cuomo suspended indoor dining in NYC starting Monday, December 14th. After beingshut down for several weeks, NYC public schools partially reopened on December 7th for 3K-5th grade students, with students with special needs returning on December 10th. Certain parts of Staten Island remain under a zoned shutdown.

Get answers to questions you may have with our "Ask An Epidemiologist" series, or learn more about NYC COVID-19 testing options with our explainer. Here are some local and state hotlines for more information: NYC: 311; NY State Hotline: 888-364-3065; NJ State Hotline: 800-222-1222.

Here's the latest:


With over 220,000 new coronavirus cases reported on Wednesday and hospitalizations surging to new highs, the White House Coronavirus Task Force has decided not to proactively send weekly reports and guidance to states.

The Center for Public Integrity revealed the policy shift last week, noting that the White House stopped sending the reports just as the task force "added a new color to its maps — 'darkest red' — as it tried to convey the severity of the surge in coronavirus cases and deaths in weekly reports to governors."

The state report gives an overview summary of the state's specific situation, noting new cases overall and in nursing homes, as well as counties with high transmission and a characterization of the risk, with maps showing the levels of spread.

Maps showing the cases per 100,000 in New York state; cases per 100,000 in New York state from a month ago; positive tests in NY; positive tests in NY from a month ago. The most recent maps show an increase in cases and positive results from a month ago.

Maps from the White House Coronavirus Task Force state report for New York, from the week of December 13th

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Maps from the White House Coronavirus Task Force state report for New York, from the week of December 13th

The report also offers recommendations in the form of treatment alerts—like suggesting Remdesivir, the antiviral medication—and pandemic alerts. For instance, soon after Thanksgiving, the report said, "The COVID risk to all Americans is at a historic high."

The Oklahoma Department of Health Tweeted that it didn't receive the weekly report last week.

A few days later, the Oklahoma Health Department said they received a report, adding that "The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recently began publishing daily national COVID-19 information on HealthData.gov which will give Oklahomans a more real-time look at the data." But the HealthData.gov information doesn't include recommendations.

The White House has also refused to share the reports with the press, and has provided no explanation for why states must now request the reports every week, instead of receiving them automatically.

CNN reported that the most recent state reports from the week of December 20th "provide stark data on the current state of the pandemic."

"The fall, now winter, surge is currently plateauing at 10x the daily cases of the spring surge and 3.5x the daily cases of the summer surge; the number of COVID-19 inpatients is 3x the number of spring inpatients and 2.2x the summer surge. Weekly fatalities are greater than the spring surge, 2.5x the summer surge, and still growing," reports said.

The reports also provided the urgent recommendation that Americans take mitigation steps seriously to "preserve" the US hospital system.

"Preventing a post-Christmas/Kwanzaa surge is critical through clear and continuous messaging: 'To preserve our hospital system for you, we need you to wear masks, physically distance, wash hands, and avoid crowds and social gatherings beyond your immediate family,'" the reports said.

This concern over a surge also comes as more people are traveling for the holidays:

Over 326,000 Americans have died from the coronavirus, according to Johns Hopkins University.